A mother comes to terms with her body issues so her daughter will stand proud

A mother comes to terms with her body issues so her daughter will stand proud

A mother comes to terms with her body issues so that her daughter will stand proud.

As we embarked on yet another trip to Legoland a couple of weeks ago, I realised I had spent all the previous ones slouching self consciously in a corner, worrying about how inelegant I look in a swimsuit.

Growing up, I was constantly teased about my weight and build. My ballet teacher called me a dancing hippopotamus. Aunts and uncles would suggest diets, corsets and meal replacement options. My grandmother once suggested I carry this really heavy box instead of my male cousin because I was purportedly as strong as an ox.

Though I have not bought a women's magazine for over a decade, I am not immune to mass media's blatant and inescapable message; thin is beautiful.

Headline after headline castigate the celebrities who have gained pounds while gushing and praising those who regain their pre-baby figures in record time.

Though I do my best to avoid the beauty hall in department stores, I do whizz past them on the way to the upper levels to where the children's and home departments are.

Even though I know and understand the power of Photoshop, I am still acutely aware of the lines and imperfections on my face and figure for a few days after that.

Over the last few years, I have taken numerous consistent and miniscule steps towards learning to love and accept myself with all my associated lines, bump, lumps and spots.

And I thought I was doing very well until the kids asked if they could please, pretty please have a photo of us together in the water park?

My first instinct was to say there were heaps. Why another photo?

But I know the truth. I hide behind everyone else when possible or exit the photo full stop. Who wants a photo of a portly matron in a tummy control bathing suit? My kids. So I entered Legoland this time with a mission: to be photographed in my swimsuit with the kids.

We began as usual in the water park and it made me smile to observe how the kids were recognised by some of the staff and were able to quickly make friends.

The Joker Soaker was open this time and as I had made a conscious decision to show my children I had a healthy body image, I traipsed around the water park in my swimsuit without self-consciously adjusting straps or worrying about bulges and lumps. I went on slides and rode rafts with them and focused on just having fun.

After the first few minutes, it was surprisingly easy. Really, no one who matters is looking. And if they are looking, they are seeing a mum having fun with her kids.

If by chance I was being judged, it certainly didn't affect me.

In fact, most people were probably too busy obsessing about their own shortcomings.

Plus, the kids and husband were so genuinely delighted that I was participating.

My daughter seems to have inherited my sturdy build. While she has always been extremely athletic and active - enjoying dancing, climbing, swimming, gymnastics, cycling and anything in general that allows her to move - she is undeniably well built and always has been. I doubt very much she will be willowy and lithe as an adult.

When she was about five, someone gave her a very pretty dress. Even though it was the perfect length, it was cut a touch narrow across the chest and tummy and was too tight. She blithely informed me, "The dress is too small."

Currently, she still believes that when clothes do not fit, it is because they are not made right. On the other hand, she has begun to become body-conscious and refuses outright to wear a bikini. She has asked why her tummy is not flat.

I am doing my best to teach her that health and strength, flexibility and endurance are the things that matter.

I try to show her that a well-balanced diet rich with vegetables and fruit, healthy oils and occasional sweet treats are the way to long term well-being.

It is for her that I will from henceforth stand tall and walk with shoulders back in a swimsuit. It is for her I will heed my husband's compliments; I have amazing skin, great muscle tone and lustrous hair. For if I cannot truly believe good things about me, why should she believe them about herself?

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